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Written by Texas Highways

Tyler DSP 97Housed in a century-old building in downtown Tyler, Discovery Science Place stands out among the historic buildings surrounding it.

ValentinesDay TX12There’s a reason all of George Strait’s exes live in Texas — there’s something ridiculously romantic about the Lone Star state. As the saying goes, everything’s bigger here, and we’re pretty sure that extends to love, too. We’re not sure if it’s the scenery or the people, but sparks fly easily all over the state, and especially during the month of February.

Port Arthur Mardi Gras04On the eve of Lent, Mardi Gras is a moment of indulgence. Food, drink, and family are at the core of Fat Tuesday. Bayou transplants in Texas and anyone else who seeks to take part in the kickoff to a new year.

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You could easily get a crick in your neck from looking up at Tom Friedman’s stainless-steel sculpture Looking Up. The 33-foot figure greets visitors to the grounds of Laguna Gloria, a splendid Italian-style villa built a century ago on the banks of the Colorado River in Austin by Clara Driscoll and her then-husband, Hal Sevier.

When Athens voters decided to make the town wet in 2012, one couple in Austin —Bess and Mike Suarez—took particular notice. Bess had grown up in Athens, and the couple had entertained the idea of leaving Austin for East Texas before. But the vote allowed them to come up with a plan to open a specialty store featuring craft beer and quality wines, the likes of which Athens and surrounding communities hadn’t yet seen.

cowboy familyTexans known better than most: there’s something romantic about playing the part of a cowboy. Clint West of Wildcatter Ranch muses that maybe old westerns are to blame.

RGB Hidden By When I told my wife, Laura, about my idea of a road trip across the Rio Grande Valley, she was initially skeptical. “What will you see that you haven’t seen before?” she asked.

MagnoliaPancakeHaus1Like many Texans who have a fondness for pancakes, I keep a list of favorite places to eat them. Magnolia Pancake Haus in San Antonio recently joined that list. On a recent visit, after perusing the menu at length and admiring the dozens of commemorative souvenir plates that serve as decoration, I ordered Magnolia’s “world famous” buttermilk pancakes with blueberries. The short stack came cooked to perfection, evenly browned and fluffy, with a fresh, slightly sweet taste.

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As the craft-beer movement explodes in the Lone Star State, well-made beers are originating beyond Texas’ major cities and long-established small-town breweries. This is particularly evident in East Texas. Beer-lovers seeking new breweries to explore should drive 90 minutes east of the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex, or a few hours north from either Austin or Houston, to visit three breweries separated by just 60 miles of tree-shaded roads.

Farmhouse CafeKBSpieInside the modest painted-brick building that houses Huntsville’s Farmhouse Cafe, comfort awaits—both on the plate and in spirit. In the springtime, large planters on the restaurant’s side patio brim with cheerful sunflowers, and year-round when the wind blows, an old-fashioned windmill spins steadily overhead, its tail assembly painted to resemble the Texas flag. Inside, an American flag hangs from an interior window, and the walls are decorated with paintings of pigs, cows, roosters, and geese, along with diamond-shaped mirrors, vintage advertisements, and wall planters full of ivy and other greenery.

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The first lighthouses came to Texas shores in 1852, built to guide ships past sandbars and shoals at river mouths and through tricky passes between barrier islands. The government constructed several types of lighthouses, including cast iron, masonry, wood, and screw-pile styles. While many have succumbed to storms, beach erosion, or demolition, six sturdy sentinels still mark our coast.

OC TEXASIt’s not a suburb, but a borough. Not an extension, but a separate township, at least spiritually. Although Dallas annexed Oak Cliff in 1903, the 87-square-mile area southwest of downtown has maintained its own identity. If Dallas is the packed dance floor under a disco ball, then Oak Cliff is the mysterious couple at the dark end of the bar playing footsie.

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